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COLLEGE PARK – Global financial services firm JPMorgan Chase & Co. have pledged $6 million to schools and universities across the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan area.
The grant, as part of their New Skills for Youth initiative, intends to expand economic opportunities for the area’s students to learn the skills necessary to succeed in the information technology (IT) sector.
The grant will benefit the school districts of both Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, as well as Baltimore City Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools and D.C. Public Schools. Details on how each initiative will be implemented will be released in upcoming months, officials say.
“We have a responsibility to build a better future for the region’s young people,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co. “This investment is a good example of how the public and private sectors can work together to create opportunity for more people and grow the local economy so that everyone benefits.”
“The point is to provide more students with access to career readiness programs and classes that focus on technology,” said Gboyinde Onijala, spokesperson for MCPS
Each district will also partner with various universities and private institutions. MCPS, for example, will split its share of the grant with Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove, while PGCPS will partner with Prince George’s Community College in Largo.
The cash infusion is intended to build new career pathway programs in IT, with JPMorgan Chase, setting a target goal of 3,200 students to take part in the first four years. The company estimates that its financial boost will also create 2,200 internship opportunities.
The grant is expected to lead to a wider curriculum of IT related-courses to D.C. and Baltimore-area students. Largo High School in Prince George’s County is already planning to implement a cybersecurity curriculum and a dual-enrollment program with neighboring PGCC, located less than a half-mile away.
“The proximity of Largo High School to PGCC will afford Largo High School students the opportunity to earn college credit through dual enrollment, earn articulated credit and ultimately graduate high school as dual completers,” said Instructional Supervisor Keith Hayes.
While details of classes, programs and costs have yet to be finalized, collaboration between the schools involved will be a key component of the New Skills for Youth program, officials said.
“The investment in this region… will allow school districts and employers to work across jurisdictional lines to help build the workforce of tomorrow with today’s students,” said Christian Rhodes, chief of staff for PGCPS. “We each face similar challenges in scaling up workforce development strategies for our respective populations. This grant provides each jurisdiction a community of practice to address this opportunity for students head on.”
While MCPS sponsors Career Pathways programs of all kinds, only a select few schools offer programs in the information technology sector. Clarksburg High School, for example, is the only school fully backing Pathways in Network and Information Technology, while Thomas Edison High School of Technology in Rockville is a fully-committed, STEM-centered school.
“It is our job to offer every opportunity we can to the kids that walk through our front doors,” said MCPS Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith. “Career and technical education programs have proven to better prepare young people for the road that lies ahead and we’re proud to partner with JPMorgan Chase to do just that.”